Humble Johnson enters immortality

Zach Johnson has entered an exclusive club after the American added a British Open win at the home of golf to his 2007 Masters triumph.

Johnson prevailed in a four-hole playoff over 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Australian Marc Leishman to join immortals of the game Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Sam Snead as the only players to win at Augusta National and St Andrews.

Coming home with a flourish Johnson birdied the 72nd hole to sign for a six-under-66 and 15-under 273 total for the clubhouse lead, before getting the job done in extra holes.

In a golfing world recently consumed by youngsters, grand slam chances and long bombers, the 39-year-old Iowa bred short-hitting American proved old school ways can still prevail on the Old Course.

“These are the things you dream about. These are the things you’ve worked to get to. I’m humbled by, I think, the talent that I’ve been given, and I’m humbled right now because of what’s in my lap and the names that are etched on this piece of metal that is very special.

“It’s the who’s who in the game,” Johnson said, while cradling the Claret Jug.

“To win at Augusta and to win The Open Championship at St. Andrews, it’s hard to put it into words.

“I never really thought I’d win one but it’s a dream realised. I am a little bit in shock. I think at some point it’ll settle in as to what was done.”

While no less than eight players had a piece of the lead in a wild final round, the 12-time US PGA Tour winner was able to keep his composure more than others.

Behind him the world collectively thought Jordan Spieth was coming home strong enough to continue his grand slam quest.

The Masters and US Open champion bounced back from an eighth hole double bogey to join the lead through 16 holes but bogeyed the 17th and then failed in his attempt to birdie the last to make the playoff when his wedge found the infamous Valley of Sin short of the green.

While disappointed, he set he sights ahead.

“I don’t know how many guys have done three majors in a year. I’m sure there’s only been a few so that would be the next goal as far as the history goes,” Spieth said.

“Sights set on the PGA Championship, and from here I’ve got a couple weeks off now, and I’m going to go home and reflect on this.

“It won’t hurt too bad. It’s not like I really lost it on the last hole, and 17 was brutally challenging. I just didn’t hit a great putt there, and I just picked the wrong wedge out of the bag on 18.

“I made a lot of the right decisions down the stretch and certainly closed plenty of tournaments out, and this just wasn’t one of those. It’s hard to do that every single time. I won’t beat myself up too bad because I do understand that.”

Australian Jason Day chalked up his ninth top 10 in 20 major championships to join Spieth in fourth, unable to make a birdie in his last 12 holes to get to the magical 15-under.

Danny Willett, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and amateur Jordan Niebrugge shared sixth at 11-under.

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